LaKay Cornell - Champagne Hippies & The Space STA

Yes! I’m featuring myself this week. It’s my birthday week, and I figured that was a great time to share my own answers to the questions I ask everyone else. I hope that you enjoy learning a little more about me and that some of this inspires you to follow your dreams…however often they change.

Website: Champagne Hippies & The Space St. Augustine Instagram: @champagne.hippies

Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it? 

I officially started Champagne Hippies and The Space (yes, both of them!) in April of 2018. However, I’ve been doing most of what these businesses entail for as long as I can remember.

Champagne Hippies helps entrepreneurs, small business owners, and corporate leaders increase profits + impact by incorporating their values into their business decisions. I do this through speaking, writing, promotion, and partnering with brands who share my values and need my skills.

The Space St. Augustine will be a coworking + community space in St. Augustine, FL. Offering physical, mental and metaphorical space, I am currently fundraising to create a multi-use facility that provides affordable options to work, connect, teach, and learn.

Why did you start your business? 

In 2013, I was laid off from what should have been the perfect job. It combined my need to work for an organization that was putting good into the world with my many years of education and experience. But there were too many pieces that didn’t fit. I decided that day that I could start my own business and do things on my own terms.

At the time, I didn’t really even know anyone who owned their own business. Shortly after I got my first consulting client, I was introduced to Marie TV from Marie Forleo. I instantly understood that there was an entire world of people who were making money and changing the world at the same time, and I was hooked.

Over the past 6 years, I have rebranded and revamped this business in a number of ways. I’ve put it on hold to help launch other passion-based businesses, and I even walked away and went to work for someone else. Last April I realized that I was never going to be fulfilled working for someone else, and that I work much better when I am collaborating or partnering with someone. I had no idea what that was going to look like, but I knew I had to start where I was. So I started blogging about how to create a business that made you money and used your values.

In 8 short months, Champagne Hippies went from a concept and a feeling to a full-fledged business plan!

Around the same time, I found out about a huge building in my neighborhood that was for sale and needed a full rehab. Instantly I knew that this place could be the coworking space I’ve been dreaming of running for many years. Having been told by SO MANY people that coworking spaces don’t make money, I started researching them. All of them. After spending too many hours on the website for The Riveter in Seattle, the concept of The Space St. Augustine was born - a multi-use facility that offers coworking, dedicated desks, wellness partnerships, meeting rooms, and hosts community events.

What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you? 

Our values come through in everything we do related to our business or leadership style. And when we take the time to get really clear on what they are, we will naturally attract exactly the right customers and collaborators.

We can use our values to change things that we feel need to be changed and we can make money doing it.

For more on how this seed was planted in my head, read my original post: How it all Began.

What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started? 

Every time someone tells me that they don’t know where their business would be if they weren’t working with me is a special moment for me. I love when my clients and partners gush about the value they get from hiring me!

But, my truly favorite part of Champagne Hippies is all the amazing people I’ve discovered and met who are using their values in their business every day. Reading the stories of founders like Richard Branson, Blake Meyers, and Marie Forleo are inspiring - but they feel out of reach. I always had this (limiting) belief that I’d need to win the lottery to have the kind of impact they are having. I want the world to know that you can have impact in every decision you make with your business.

And every time I meet someone who is proof of that, it’s my favorite part!

What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business? 

Making money from doing what I feel called to do.

I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I was meant to be a speaker. My high school prediction was hosting a talk show. Every coach I’ve worked with, personality test I’ve done, or problem-solving conversation over wine has ended with the same result: I was meant to be on stage and move large numbers of people.

But it’s SUPER hard to actually get paid to do that. And many many people who are getting paid to do that started with something else, got really amazing at it, and then started teaching other people about it.

Or, they are pastors or cult leaders. :)

Propelling myself to thought leader while still doing the work that pays my bills is my greatest struggle. Not only because it’s hard to do other things when you want to spend all your time doing the thing you are called to do - but also because it’s hard to even know what you should be doing - what are the other things? It’s also really challenging to market yourself on multiple fronts.

If I didn’t have to pay those silly bills, I’d easily spend all day every day writing, connecting to people, and sharing my message.

What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years? 

This year I am pivoting from making almost all of my money consulting to speaking and writing. I’m writing a book and pitching myself to conferences and workshops across the country. As part of this mission, I’m also going to launch a podcast to have longer conversations with some of the Changemakers I feature.

I’d also like to weed out the work that doesn’t speak to my soul and replace the income with things that do - either through the above or through other partnerships and adventures that may come up. I want to start having the financial capacity to say no to the things that don’t fall in line with my own values and say no to working with companies that don’t operate with the values I feel are important.

In 5 years, I want Champagne Hippies to be a respected voice in the world of values-based business. I want to be invited to speak at conferences on the future of work, conscious capitalism, and impact driven business.

With the Space, it’s a little harder. Since the project is a $1M project, I’m doing everything I can to connect to people who might be able to fund it or introduce me to someone who can. It’s hard to say where we will or even can be in one year. But, in 5 years, I want to be OPEN and offering meaningful programming, events, and workspace to entrepreneurs, community leaders, and small business owners in my town - and possibly thinking about replicating the model in other towns similar to ours.

I also want to create an investment fund that will help values-based entrepreneurs get access to capital in lower amounts - not millions of dollars like a V.C. fund or angel investor, but $25K that means they get to uplevel their packaging or pay for manufacturing or quit their day job and go all in for 6 months on their dream. This is the one thing that I wish I had - a way to do nothing but follow through on the projects/facets of Champagne Hippies for 6 months…truly sink or swim - and, at the same time, someone to help me flesh those ideas out and turn them into a profitable business - but without taking everything over!

Who are your business icons, heroines or mentors? 

All the people I have and will interview through Champagne Hippies are icons to me. I was really fortunate to meet Aaron Johnson in the first few months that I started my first business and he has become my favorite in-person mentor.

On a larger scale, I’m blown away by Richard Branson on a daily basis. I have a #businesscrush on Danny Meyer.

And the ladies who founded and run The Riveter are my current heroines!

What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business? 

You do you. Ask for help. Listen to people you trust. But, in the end, learn to get quiet and trust your intuition. Take what people tell you and sit with it - examine your reactions (positive + negative) and decide how much weight you are going to give it. Being still with yourself and paying attention to your body and emotions is how you truly know if you are making the right decision.

What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?

There are so many that I WANT to attend! I’m definitely working towards 2019 bringing me the chance to finally attend (at least some of) the following:

World Domination Summit, Socap, Global Coworking Unconference Conference, and the Conscious Capitalism Conference.

I’m also really looking forward to being part of the Women’s Expo: Blazing Your Trail event in Jacksonville next month!

What is the last book you read? 

I joined a group on FB this year dedicated to reading all the books that you’ve already purchased and haven’t yet read. So, in January, I read Fearless & Fabulous and Expectation Hangover. In February, I ordered three more new books and didn’t read them. :) And I started Dare to Lead.

I’m probably the most excited about this new book that is on its way to me: Proposals for the Feminine Economy.